May Tomorrow Be Awake: On Poetry, Autism, and Our Neurodiverse Future
An author and educator’s pioneering approach to helping autistic students find their voices through poetry—a powerful and uplifting story that shows us how to better communicate with people on the spectrum and explores how we use language to express our seemingly limitless interior lives.
Adults often find it difficult to communicate with autistic students and try to “fix” them. But what if we found a way to help these kids use their natural gifts to convey their thoughts and feelings? What if the traditional structure of language prevents them from communicating the full depth of their experiences? What if the most effective and most immediate way for people on the spectrum to express themselves is through verse, which mirrors their sensory-rich experiences and patterned thoughts?
May Tomorrow Be Awake explores these questions and opens our eyes to a world of possibility. It is the inspiring story of one educator’s journey to understand and communicate with his students—and the profound lessons he learned. Chris Martin, an award-winning poet and celebrated educator, works with non-verbal children and adults on the spectrum, teaching them to write poetry. The results have been nothing short of staggering for both these students and their teacher. Through his student’s breathtaking poems, Martin discovered what it means to be fully human.
Martin introduces the techniques he uses in the classroom and celebrates an inspiring group of young autistic thinkers—Mark, Christophe, Zach, and Wallace—and their electric verse, which is as artistically dazzling as it is stereotype-shattering. In telling each of their stories, Martin illuminates the diverse range of autism and illustrates how each so-called “deficit” can be transformed into an asset when writing poems. Meeting these remarkable students offers new insight into disability advocacy and reaffirms the depth of our shared humanity.
Martin is a teacher and a lifelong learner, May Tomorrow Be Awake is written from a desire to teach and to learn—about the mind, about language, about human potential—and the lessons we have to share with one other.